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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diet and Nutrition > Protein in Diet: Functions and Sources
      Category : Health Centers > Food, Nutrition, and Metabolism

Protein in Diet

Protein in Diet | Functions and Sources

What food source is the nutrient found in?

Animal foods are the best source of "complete" proteins. A "complete" protein contains all nine of the essential amino acids. "Incomplete" proteins, the type common in plant-based proteins, do not provide the body with all nine essential amino acids. Plant-based proteins do contain essential amino acids but not all nine. Vegetarians, that eat strictly plant foods, should eat a large variety of plant foods daily to make sure they get all of the nine essential amino acids.

Good sources of complete proteins include:

  • beef
  • lamb
  • pork
  • poultry
  • fish
  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • dairy products
  • soy
  • Vegetable foods that are high in protein include all kinds of legumes such as peas, beans, grains and some vegetables. Even though soy foods are plant-based foods, it is the only plant food that contains all nine essential amino acids. It is the only plant food that is a "complete" protein.

    How does the nutrient affect the body?

    Protein is important for growth and development. It is a part of every body cell. The body needs a constant supply of protein to repair body cells as they wear out. Protein is important to the organs, muscles, nervous system, blood vessels and skeleton. Children and adolescents require protein for normal growth and development. Proteins are also part of enzymes, such as antibodies that help protect from diseases and viruses. Protein also provides the body with an energy source. The body will use protein for energy if there is not enough carbohydrate and fat present. Otherwise it will be used for its other unique features.

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    Protein in Diet: Overview & Description


    Author: Clare Armstrong, MS, RD
    Reviewer: Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD, LD
    Date Reviewed: 03/28/01

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